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Host a listening party to spark creativity and community

Beethoven, Bob Dylan, and Dave Brubeck album for listening party

emando febrian | doddis77 | Wikimedia Commons | Altered by Aleteia

Cecilia Pigg - published on 09/12/23

As the weather turns cooler, consider gathering a few friends or family members together to sit down and listen to some beautiful music together.

“Oh, I’m not very creative,” I always demur, happy to pass all design jobs and decisions to others on whatever committee I happen to be volunteering on.

 It’s true that I’m not skilled at creating with my hands or at home decorating. I have used this “I’m not creative” excuse for much of my life to avoid having to make aesthetic decisions or do creative work. But I’ve had to rethink my definition of creativity over the years.

I now believe that part of our vocation as humans is to be creative. It is vital to our humanity; we are made in the image and likeness of our Creator after all. I can’t use my old excuse anymore.

But what does it mean to be creative, then? It can’t necessarily mean “able to draw particularly well” or “crafty to the nth degree,” as my abilities in those areas remain remarkably poor. My new, personal take on creativity is that it comes from looking at the world around us with innocence and awe, recognizing we are not alone, and then using that awareness to create in a myriad of ways — be that in art, cooking, organizing, the written or spoken word, or by creating physical handicrafts.

The first step in the creative process is to pay attention and appreciate the beauty around us.

Take in beauty with a listening party

In that vein, why not spark your creativity and build a sense of community with a listening party this autumn? Gather a few friends and/or family members together and sit down and listen to an album.

What follows are six different music suggestions in different genres, along with a linked article that gives something to consider about the music in question. I suggest reading the article first together, listening to the album, and then discussing it afterwards.

Taking in beauty with others, and then having an opportunity to hear their insights and share our own is so human and so enjoyable. Don’t forget the food—break out the apple cider and apple cider donuts to celebrate the season and enhance the experience.

Some music suggestions

Listen to Tracy Chapman’s self-titled first album, Tracy Chapman. What issues is she singing about? Do you relate to them? Then compare her “Fast Car” with Luke Combs’ recent remake and discuss the differences and which you prefer and why. Something you might read and talk about is this article about “Fast Car” in particular.

Explore Bob Dylan. If you (or those in your audience) are new to Dylan, listen to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylantogether. Or try Trouble No Morefrom his Gospel-influenced period. Check out this commentary for some guidance and background in listening.

If you and your friends are more classically inclined, try Beethoven’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra Op 61. Here is a piece to read about this moving and sublime concerto.

For an evening of jazz, choose Dave Brubeck’s Take Five and read this interview with him, which gives some insight into the Catholic Mass he wrote as well.

If you would like more of a rock vibe, enjoy Julien Baker’s album Sprained Ankleand discuss this commentary on her music.

And if the weather is still warm enough to be outside comfortably, crack open a cold coke and enjoy the bluegrass sounds of the Hillbilly Thomists with a little background on their first album here.

(Here are a couple of other albums to check out, especially if you are trying to convince teenagers to attend and participate: Kendrick Lamar’s Good kid, m.A.A.d city and this article, and Taylor Swift’s Midnights and discuss what she is looking for in love.)

Check out our POP MUSIC, CATHOLIC MUSIC, and CLASSICAL MUSIC tags to find articles that will surely spur other music ideas!

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